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The Problem With Opportunity – Three "D"s To Streamline Your Time And Set Yourself Up For Success

Written by: Marc Scheff, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Marc Scheff

If you’re like me or my clients, you’re good at spotting opportunities. Part of that is good, noticing opportunities can lead to great successes. The dark side of that skill is that there’s more to say yes to than you can reasonably do.

Financial advisor shaking hands with customer

And yet, so many of us reach overwhelm and burnout because we do try to do it all.


About every three months I reach exactly this point, where I can see overwhelm in the path of my current trajectory. Why? I get invited to some new opportunity and want to make it work. I fit it in. Then it happens again. Suddenly my nice clean schedule is peppered with all the new things I want to squeeze in. Good thing I have a number of coaches to push me on my assumptions.


I was getting some of my own coaching this week, and the Coach (who will be on an upcoming podcast episode of mine) offered that my next move was to simplify. “Do less to do more.”


And I was reminded of Greg McKeown’s book “Essentialism,” where he introduces the idea not of doing more by doing less, but rather doing less and doing those things better.


Great idea, but when you’re like my clients you’re really good at seeing the potential in unexpected places. So it’s capital-H Hard to know where to let things go. And when you do, how can you ensure that you’re doing anything better?


How to do less and do those things better

Step one: Reframe

A client recently faced this problem. She’s a powerhouse creative and was working on maybe half a dozen projects all of which had huge upsides. Yes, a little overwhelm crept in, but then the rock met the hard place. An opportunity with one project just plain conflicted with a few of the others.


We had to look at her list of exciting projects and find one to let go. But when we evaluated the projects, she told me all about the potential upsides. They all sounded good!

Here’s the reframe: by talking only about the positives of your list of projects, you’re actually taking a negative view. You’re talking about all the things you might LOSE by paring down.


Reframe question

What do you gain when you let something go?

When we create space we have an opportunity to fill it with intention.


Rather than trying to figure out which great thing to lose, ask yourself what great thing could you do if this or that project was no longer in the picture. Is there something else you’ve been putting off? Would you be able to find even greater success with a remaining project?


Step two: Do an audit

Doing an audit is as simple as writing down all the things you do and putting them in two lists. One is a list of things that, when you do them, you find yourself filled up, refueled, and energized. The second list is a list of things that, when you do them you feel drained, tapped out, or just in need of a nap.


It would be easy to say, wow, ok, just get rid of all the drains! But it’s rarely that simple, and also not possible. Some things feel draining, but have to be done.


The binary of “Do” or “Ditch” is a myth, and risks losing important project outcomes.


Step three: Do, delegate, ditch

These are the three D’s to take your audit and streamline for a more balanced project load.


Do, Delegate, or Ditch.


Take those two lists and mark each project with one of the three D’s: Do, Delegate, or Ditch. These three Ds have the power to transform projects.


Pitfalls to avoid

One, not trying the exercise. There’s a fear people have of their own imagination. Like if they entertain the idea of cutting some important project or activity then it might somehow accidentally come to pass. It’s just an exercise of imagination. Explore the world where that project is gone. If you hate that world, nobody is going to force you to commit to it. Try a different scenario.

Two, filling space. If you are an opportunity spotter, it would be beyond easy to instantly fill any open space in your calendar with something new. Don’t. It’s how you got here. Try letting something go and adding nothing for a week, or two, or more. See how that impacts your remaining projects and your own energy tank.



You may find a few surprising outcomes. You may find some things that refuel you end up needing to be ditched in favor of other more important things. I can relate to this one. Getting older and being a parent has a way of re-prioritizing.


You may also find that some in the drain column have a delegate option that moves the project into the refuel column. For example, I don’t love the endless summer highlight reel of social media. Big drain. But by delegating some of the more rote tasks to an assistant or scheduling software, suddenly all that’s left is for me to write and refine my thoughts. Suddenly the drain is a refueling opportunity.




I’d love to start a conversation with you here. What area of your life needs the three Ds?

Where can delegation transform drains into refuel opportunities?

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and visit my website for more info!

Marc Scheff Brainz Magazine

Marc Scheff, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Marc Scheff works with people to design lives beyond what they think is possible. As a child he saw first hand what shifts in perspective and mindset can create even against difficult odds. He now dedicates his time to working with high-level creators and entrepreneurs to create well beyond the success they've had and into the success they've dreamed about. His purpose is to unleash creativity, and he has had the distinct pleasure of doing with work with a healthcare exec, a museum curator, an advisor to the president, and hundreds more.



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